Take the Plunge
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent February 19, 2013 3:32PM
Emily Allen, of Hobart, is dressed as a penguin to jump into the cold water during the annual Polar Plunge fundraiser for Porter County Special Olympics held at Valparaiso University. | Charles Mitchell~For Sun-Times Media
For more on the Special Olympics of Porter County, go to www.porcoso.org.
Updated: March 21, 2013 6:17AM
Typically, jumping into a pool of cold water on an even colder day isn’t a dress-up affair.
Try telling that to Jason Celorio and his son, Jason Jr., 12, who raided the closets of the females in their Wheatfield family to come up with a getup for the third annual Polar Plunge to benefit the Special Olympics of Porter County.
Celorio wore a black, gray and white number that belonged to his wife, while Jason Jr. sported a pink dress belonging to his sister.
Celorio said his neighbor got them into the plunge — the Feb. 9 event was their second year participating outside the Athletic-Recreation Center at Valparaiso University — and put on his Facebook page that the Celorios would wear dresses if they made their
$200 fund-raising goal.
“It was a last-minute thing,” Celorio said, adding he and his son, who wore Hawaiian garb last year, had their method for facing down the frigid water. “Just jump in. That’s the trick.”
In all, 86 plungers raised more than $20,000 for the Special Olympics, said Chuck Garber, one of the chairs of the event and VU’s assistant police chief. The event raised a combined $37,000 in its first two years, he added.
With the air temperature in the mid-30s and the water a comparatively balmy 52 degrees from a nearby fire hydrant, the plunge was definitely not for the faint of heart.
But Special Olympians, as well as members of the Valparaiso Fire Department and an assortment of folks in various stages of costume, made the atmosphere festive and lively, if not warm.
That included Emily Allen of Hobart, part of a party of five penguins who made their costumes together the night before the plunge. Allen jumped in with her friend’s three kids.
Allen’s first plunge was a couple years ago in Chicago.
“It was probably the coldest I’ve ever been in my life,” said Allen, a special education teacher in the Hammond schools whose sister is involved in Special Olympics.
With a few plunges under her belt, Allen is now able to compare water temperatures from year to year. The water in Valparaiso was warmer last year, she said.
And this year?
“It’s cold,” she said.